Fika Runt Stockholm – A Map!

You probably already know that Swedes loves their coffee. And they love to fika.

Which got me thinking that, there should be a map to all the popular, or in some cases only, cafes in Stockholm.

I took the SL’s tunnelbanan’s karta (metro map), removed all the stations, and inserted cafes. Surprisingly, it was a lot harder than I expected. There were tons of cafes in innerstaden (central city), but once you hit the förort (suburb), it becomes a coffee desert.

What I would love to do is have your input for coffee shops at the missing stations. I will be taking comments here until March 15th. Then I will update the map and repost it.

BTW, right-click on the map to open it as a full image.
fika runt stockholm

And yes, it means I’m alive!

xoxo

One Day Only – Visit 16 Hemliga Rums {Secret Rooms} Across Sweden

Tomorrow, Saturday May 26th, the Swedish National Property Board will open 16 secret rooms to the public.

This is a ONE day only event and more than 100,000 people are expected to visit the castles and landmarks across the nation.

From 11am to 4pm, visit one of the famous landmarks and have a peek at the unknown. This only happens every few years, if that. You don’t want to miss it!

Här öppnas låsta dörrar – Here the secret doors will open
Boden: Bodens fästning
Gotland: Tingstäde fästning
Göteborg: Oscar II fort
Härnösand: Hemsö fästning
Karlsborg: Karlsborgs fästning
Karlskrona: Drottningskärs kastell
Kungälv: Bohus fästning
Landskrona: Landskrona Citadell och Gråen
Linköping: Linköpings slott
Nynäshamn: Erstabatteriet
Stockholm: Artillerigårdens skyddsrum, Bergrummet under Skeppsholmen, & Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Uppsala: Uppsala slott
Vaxholm: Oscar-Fredriksborg
Källa: Statens fastighetsverk

Check out the website for more information. The weather will be gorgeous so get yourself out into the sunshine!

Delta, Air France, KLM & Most Airlines Won’t Allow Rabbits to Travel Internationally – You Suck

I found out disappointing news from my favorite airline, Delta. They no longer accept rabbits as checked baggage internationally. Only on *some* domestic flights will they allow rabbits in the cabin. Which ones? Call them and figure it out yourself.

This is very disappointing for me since I have in the past traveled with Delta on domestic and international routes with my pet rabbit. I hoped to have continued that service.

But when Northwest Airlines and Delta merged, the good old days were dead.

Of course, the other airline members in the Skyteam fare even worse:
Air France – Rabbits not permitted at all

KLM – Rabbits not permitted at all

Alitalia – Rabbits not permitted at all

Korean Air – Rabbits not permitted at all

China Airlines – Rabbits not permitted at all (ps your search box is broken!)

Delta Airlines – Rabbits allowed on some domestic flights in cabin and checked baggage. NEVER for international flights on cabin, checked, or cargo.

Aeroflot – Rabbits not permitted at all (ps your website was written in 1984).

Alaska Airlines – They allow bunnies in the cabin on domestic flights!

 
Star Alliance:
United Airlines – They say yes. Called them and received conflicting answers. Their email service took TWO MONTHS to respond and even then their service was moronic, “we hope you found your answer.”

Update: We’ve started calling United Airlines again but as usual after 30minutes on the phone, the operator said “no” to rabbits (their website says “yes”) and put us on the hold again for another 15 minutes. This time they said pets can travel in CARGO only on international flights.

UPDATE 2: Rabbits allowed in cabin on domestic flights (though it took speaking two supervisors up in the chain of command) and cargo on international flights.

Continental Airlines – They say yes but like United they too don’t know the rules.
Update: Now that Continental is merged, it doesn’t matter.

Finnair – Their website says they accept “cats, dogs, and rodents” in cabins. You can get a rabbit to as far as JFK and that’s it. UPDATE, October 10th – The rabbit MUST BE in a hard case of 35cm max length. That length is impossible to fit a bunny. There are no exceptions. DO NOT TRAVEL WITH FINNAIR FOR CABIN. I have just had the worst nightmare ever.

At least Finnair ALLOWS rabbits internationally even if to only JFK in the United States. What a miracle.

Luftansa – Rabbits NOT permitted at all.

SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) – Rabbits NOT permitted at all.

 
One World team:
British Airways – Rabbits not permitted at all
American Airlines – Rabbits not permitted at all
Iberia – cannot be clarified through the website; must call.
 
Other Airlines:

Virgin and the Richard Branson club – Rabbits NOT permitted at all

 
And on EVERY airline listed above, cats and dogs can travel in the cabin.

The Discrimination
It is well known that people discriminate against rabbits. Some people believe rabbits are only good for producing Easter eggs while some believe rabbits are relatives to the rodent family. They are not. Rabbits are part of the lagomorph family and don’t have much to do with rodents except for being furry and a mammal.

And the USDA considers rabbits to be chickens when it comes to meat processing.

I already emailed with several Delta representatives and the chance of ever taking a rabbit in cabin or via checked baggage internationally is the same as getting a ticket to the Moon.

Why rabbits are not considered equal pets in status to cats and dogs. Why are rabbits not awarded the same kind of travel opportunity?

Because the airlines hate cute, furry bunnies.

Rabbits are vegetarian, they make no noise, and few people are allergic to them.

Therefore, we can assume airlines do not like mammals that eat plants, are silent, and are allergy friends.

It must be better to have a screaming cat in front of you (e.g. my Air France flight from Mumbai to Paris) and have other passengers sneezing than let a rabbit on the plane. And the cat’s carrier had his own seat!

I contacted some House Rabbit Societies and rabbit organizations in the United States. Most did not know or didn’t bother answering. A couple HRS are looking into this to get more information. Perhaps we should start a massive campaign to “love thy flying bun?”

At the end, airlines must be so shocked to find pissed off passengers; stripping away benefits and hiking prices surprisingly does not make for happy customers. I fly out of necessity, not because I want to.

Is there any airline left in the world to have enough decency to let a bunny fly in the cabin? Or is all hope dead?

Skiing in Romme, Dalarna & Seeing the Almighty Dalahäst

A couple weeks ago we decided to take a ski bus to Romme to ski for the day. The bus pass includes a ski pass and it’s an economical way to go skiing for the day that’s not a mole hill in Stockholm.

I spent most of the three hour bus ride staring out the window waiting for a blanket of soft snow to cover the landscape. Instead, the further north we went, the less likely for winter wonderland.

Romme, is a small town just 10k south of Borlänge and is in the southern part of Dalarna. Dalarna is one of the northern states and translates to “The Valleys.” People usually tease that the Swedish men who speak the least come from this region.

I also realized when I was on the bus that Happy Hedgehog, the cute store sponsoring the giveaway, was just 10 minutes away from the slopes! We ended up missing each other :( Still, if you haven’t entered the fabulous giveaway, what are you doing reading this article?!

Anyway…here’s to photos!

Sunrise, somewhere near Västerås
Sunrise near Västerås

Trees
The beginning of the trees

Slightly icy river
First River Crossing

Glowing trees
Plains and Trees
 

River with fish scale icing
Icy River

Golden plains. I swear we are moving northwards
The Great Plains of Central Sweden

More Trees! And a touch of snow
Trees in Sweden

I spy the Dalahäst!
Here comes the Dalahäst

Tjooohoooo!
The dalahäst!

Back to trees
Trees in Sweden

Another river. Winter is not coming.
River

Pretty little church
Little Church in the Prairie

Swedish boy on a horse – in the middle of a roundabout …
Swedish boy on a horse

Axeman – in the middle of a roundabout …
Axeman! near Romme, Dalarna, Sweden

Giant blue thing – in the middle of a roundabout … {anyone know what this is?}
Giant Blue Thing, near Romme, Dalarna, Sweden

At last – Romme! The mini ski village
IMG_0995

It turns out that I suck at using the button lift (knapplift – which I renamed to knappgök lift) on skis equally as much as on a snowboard. I also sucked at skiing even though my snowboarding was slightly above mediocre. Therefore, a beer was prescribed to calm my nerves.
IMG_1004

Now this is how babies sleep in Sweden. Probably illegal in America or some idiot will call child services and the police on you.
IMG_1007

At the top of the slope. This was NOT me.
The top of the slope in Romme

Green, red, or black?
IMG_1011

I am still questioning whether winter came…
Are you sure it's winter in Dalarna?

Winter did not come.
Winter did not come.

Signs, in case you get lost
Lots of signs!

At an elevation of 138 meters above sea level, the highest slope point of Romme rests at 275 meters
Just 2.4km high

Hmmm, I wonder if the snow on the ground was blasted out by the snow machines to make people feel better about thinking it’s wintertime.
IMG_1023

Sunset
IMG_1024

And goodnight…
Goodnight Dalahäst

World’s Largest Bunny Needs Home

First off, I saw him! I saw the world’s largest kanin (rabbit) in Stortorget, Örebro. He was wonderful!!

Photos are a bit dark, sorry. But look at his size!
Bunny Butt on a Statue

World's Largest Rabbit

Now the sad part, he needs a new home. Very badly. He was first to be taken down on Sept 25th but the city extended his wooden life to October 3rd. He can be sold to someone in Sweden or elsewhere.

Big ears

Stortorget, Örebro
If you have a few hundred thousand kronor to spare and some land, buy him!

I totally would.

Free Museums in Stockholm to Visit during the Summer

Stockholm is not a cheap city to visit on a budget. It’s almost an irony to say “Stockholm on a budget” because well, it can involve kebabs, pizza, and really disgustingly cheap stor stark beer or lättöl (light alcohol content beers).

Alas, there is some relief during the summertime in Stockholm.  Many museums have free days and some are free entirely.

Free Museums in Stockholm: Free ALL the time

Forum för levande historia (The Living History Forum)

This museum provides a haunting look at crimes against humanity and aims to remind us of the importance of learning from our dark pasts.

Färgfabriken (Center for contemporary art and architecture)

This museum boasts fun and serious exhibitions related to art, society, film, and architecture.  They also have interactive sections where you can get your own hands dirty.

Haga parkmuseum (Haga Park Museum)

Located in Solna, Haga Museum describes the history and architecture of the surrounding park.  The park grounds have The Turkish and Chinese Pavilion, Haga Ruins (Gustav III’s unfinished castle), a beautiful lake, and the bizarre yet gorgeous Copper Tents (where guards used to live) lies within the park grounds.  Take bus 515 from Odenplan to the park.

Haga Park Copper Tent by Linkahwai
Haga Park Museum

Dansmuseet (Museum for the Performing and Visual Arts)

This museum focuses on dance and theater from various cultures.  They occasionally have live performances.

Etnografiska museet (Ethnographic Museum)

Located on the northern part of Djurgården (take Bus 69 to get there), this museum hosts collections on humanity and Sweden’s interaction in conflicts.  The museum also boasts one of Europe’s Japanese Tea Houses which is open throughout the summer.  Call +46 (0)8-519 550 10 or send an e-mail to ulla.edberg@etnografiska.se about the tea ceremony times.

Stockholms medeltidsmuseum (The Museum of Medieval Stockholm)

This museum offers a look at medieval Stockholm set in an underground building just a stone’s throw away from the royal castle. The only visible remains of Stockholm’s medieval city wall are located, still intact, in the museum. There is even a medieval tunnel from the museum to the castle, which is very much closed to the public.

Stockholms Stadsmuseum (Stockholm City Museum)

An undiscerning blue-gray colored building at Slussen, the Stockholm City Museum provides an overview of the history of Stockholm from its founding to contemporary issues.

Tullmuseum (Swedish Customs Museum)

Not customs like culture, but customs as the annoying people who stand at the airports waiting to search you when exiting.  The Tullmuseum offers plenty of exhibitions about smuggling and anti-smuggling.

Kulturhuset

Kulturhuset offers temporary exhibitions throughout the year on everything from photography to theater to music and even comic books. Beware though, Kulturhuset is several floors and not all exhibitions are free.

Kungliga biblioteket (National Library of Sweden)

The museum houses the Codex Gigas, often called the Devil’s Bible. Unfortunately, the Codex Gigas is not viewable by the public.  They still have an impressive collection of historical documents.

Special Day FREE Entrances to Stockholm Museums:

Nordiska muséet (The Nordic Museum)

Free on Wednesday evenings but not valid from June-August.  They were smart knowing all the tourists visit then.  Nevertheless, the Nordiska Museum is located on Djurgården, near Vasa Museum, and hosts collections related to Swedish culture, food, holidays.  Currently on exhibition is a section dedicated to Swedish fashion and Swedish holidays.

Easter Eggs at Nordiska Holidays Exhibition
Easter Eggs

Kungliga Myntkabinettet (The Royal Coin Cabinet & Economy Museum) – Mondays all day – free admission

One of the royal museums of Sweden, the National Economy Museum host collections about the financial history of Sweden, coins, monetary usage, and medals.

Tekniska Museet (The  National Museum of Science and Technology)  – Wed 5-8PM free admission

This museum offers insight into how things work and why they work.  Current exhibitions are about space, sports, and transportation.  Sweden’s first passenger airplane hangs from the ceiling.

The next post will have information on free events and happenings throughout Stockholm during the summertime.

Recipe for an Absolut Summer

It was Monday after Midsommar and I had nothing better to do than visit the museum with Andrew and his family who are here to visit Stockholm. After two hours in the museum (more on that later), we headed to the Absolut Ice Bar near central station.
absolute drinks

It was 25C outside and sunny in Stockholm. In the ice bar it was -5C and required a funny coat and mittens that don’t warm you up. To say the least, visiting the frigid weather was refreshing and cooling. Wearing a short skirt and high heels is not recommended though.

If you are visiting Stockholm and enjoy Absolut vodka and ice sculptures then visit the Ice Bar at the Nordic Sea Hotel. Booking online is 25kr cheaper than going straight to the door. Who doesn’t love a deal! You can book at least one hour ahead of time. Go here to book. Prices to visit the Ice Bar:
Online pre-booked sessions: SEK 170 per person.
• Pre-booked session on sight or by telephone: SEK 180 per person.
• Drop-in sessions: SEK 195 per person.
• Guests staying at Nordic Sea Hotel: SEK 150 per person.
• Entrance with alcohol-free coctail: SEK 140 per person.
Evidently even being a guest at the hotel doesn’t give you a free ride.

absolut scary fish
The cost covers entrance into the bar and one drink. They have wild concoctions and being a true Swede myself, I ordered the Absolut Captain made of frozen lingonberries, lingonberry juice, and Absolut 100. Oh yea, the real shit.

Note to self, in the frozen bar you don’t feel buzzed at all. Outside, 30 minutes later, pushing your bike up Götgatan as old people pass you by, is when the buzz hits you.

My recipe for an Absolut Summer
1 part museum visit – to feel cultural
2 parts sunshine
1 part frozen bar & drink
1 jigga buzzed walk with bicycle
1 part happiness

Stir together and enjoy!

Little Midsommar Frogs

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

The sun is shining brightly, the girls are meeting midsommar men, and the fishes are splashing around on our dining plates.

Welcome to the Swedish Midsummer!

Time to eat delicious strawberries, lax, sill, potatoes with dill, and of course aquavit. No midsommarfirande (midsummer festival) is complete without singing and dancing. Small frogs dancing around a maypole or seven pretty girls in a circle with flowers are essentials to the summer debauchery.

Seven girls in a circle:
Sju vackra flickor i en ring
sju vackra flickor i en ring,
vackraste flickor häromkring
ibland de flickor alla.

Flickorna vända sig omkring
flickorna vända sig omkring,
sökande efter vännen sin
ibland de gossar alla.

Vara vem det vara vill
vara vem det vara vill.
Den, som jag räcker handen till,
han har mitt unga hjärta.

Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu kan jag vara riktigt gla’.
Nu har jag fått den jag vill ha
ibland de gossar alla,
ibland de gossar alla.

This midsummer, I hope all of you are out of the city and in the forest or at Swedish countryside homes drinking brennvin and enjoying a true national Swedish holiday.

For all of you single bees, there are plenty of flowers to pollinate. Håkan Petersson from Folkungagillet, Linköping’s dance association said:

“Traditionally, Midsummer was a time where men and women could come together and flirt in ways that are much more subtle than today,” he says. “Many of these songs and dances reflect the flirtatiousness and are filled with innuendo.”

Maybe you can find a Swede in Sweden amongst the strawberry fields.

Best Bars and Pubs to Visit in Stockholm

Now that spring is arriving, Stockholmers will hit the streets in droves from their 6 months of hibernation in the catacombs.

Whether you want the hole in the pub in Stockholm or an upscale diva’licious bar, Stockholm has the selection of places to drink. Upon first glace, you may only see the super posh and somewhat pretentious bars in Stureplan, Riche and Spy Bar bear in mind, but after delving into each of small sections of the city, you will find the right watering hole for you and friends and the beautiful swedish girls.

I split the list into two groups: one group is more of casual bars and pubs that serve food but are about the beers, rather than charging for the ambiance. The second group consists of posh bars and cocktail lounges that specialize in both beers and mixed drinks.

The Standard Lot and Casual Bars:
Prices range anywhere from 32kr for a stor stark (the strong big beer) to 65kr. Be prepared when visiting the bars in Stockholm, finding cheap bars is hard. You may have to add a bit extra weight to your wallet.

Cafe Tranen – Odenplan, Vasastaden – A popular place in Vasastan for the 20 and 30somethings to meet.  It’s located downstairs and the bar restaurant serves both beer and food.  If you are in that part of town, definitely swing by.

Monks – Sveavägen, innstaden – The other of beer conaisseur bars in Stockholm, Monks has a large selection of beers on tab.

Spitfire– Östermalm – Joined together with Oxid bar, Spitfire is a great hole-in-the wall English style bar with good beer on tap.  Prices are reasonable and there is a happy hour until 6PM. It’s a cozy little pub perfect for the Friday’s afterwork beers.  I have been to both Spitfire and Oxid many times and the ambiance is great and the whole world doesn’t descend upon the places either.

Tudor Arms Pub & Restaurang – Östermalm – Another great English pub where they actually closes at 11PM. Yes, 11PM, because in Britain that’s what time pubs must close. I love this place because of the food, the crazy owner (a large, loud, flirtatious bloke), and the unassuming ambiance. Prices are reasonable for being in the expensive Östermalm district.

Debaser – Slussen & Humlegården – One of my favorite places for ut servering (outside service), Debaser Slussen is located between Gamla Stan and Södermalm islands.  At night, local bands play inside (there is an entry fee) but you can sit outside freely.  There is also Debaser Humlegården in Östermalm.  Food is on the pricey side for being a bar but beers are reasonably priced.
Debaser Slussen

Akkurat – Slussen, Södermalm – One of the two beer connoisseur bars in Stockholm, the other beings Monks, Akkurat has more beer than your eyeballs or belly can imagine. Prices start at reasonable and sky rocket to beyond belief if you decide to go for the classy, hand brewed beers. In the summer, mussels are served at the bar and are a popular choice with the patrons.

Kellys – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – One of the few exceptions to the rule, you can find cheap beer in Stockholm.  Pretty grungy and loud rock music, it’s the place for cheap beers.

Carmen – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – A true hole in the wall with grumpy staff, get yourself before the rest of the crowd shows up and takes the 12 seats in the bar. Cheap beer and no music means bring the office coworkers with you.

Southside Pub – Zinkensdamn, Södermalm – The best hamburgers in town (at around 132kr), this Irish pub also has English quiz nights on Thursdays.  A great local spot and a foreign hangout on the quiz nights.

Snaps – Medborgaplatsen, Södermalm – A great meet up place for friends. The location is perfect; lying smack in Medborgaplatsen, it’s the perfect outdoor serving bar. Prices are typical of Stockholm.


Posh Places to Get Delicious Drinks:

Bauer – Slussen – Södermalm –  Smiley face lamps and cartoons adorn the walls but don’t assume it is a place for the kids. They make great cosmopolitans and other hard drinks.

Kungsholmen – Kungsholmen – The restaurant and bar that bears the same name as the island it lays upon, Kungsholmen is part of the Grupp F12.  A more trendy and light hearted place for both the aspiring twenty somethings and those with families, Kungsholmen offers great food (from Asian to more South American) and drinks to complement.

Gondolen – Slussen, Södermalm – Excellent mojitos and other hard liquor drinks.  Your wallet will be lighter when you leave.

Vampire Lounge – Södermalm – Located in a celler, the Vampire Lounge is a low key classy place for cocktails.  As they specialize in mixed drinks, you should be able to find anything you want.  And anything you don’t want (I once had a nasty green drink…should have asked the waiter about it before).

Ute Companiet
(part of Sture Companiet) – Stureplan, Östermalm –  One of the many super posh bars and restaurants in the Stureplan, Ute Companiet is fun because the whole place is outside next to Svampen (that giant mushroom).  It’s a great spot to people watch and see the wanna be richies mingle with the richies and the richies try to be ultra cool.  If you want to see stekare men, this is definitely the place.  You can also visit Sturehof, Riche, and Birger Jarl which have similar clientele but fun to visit if you’re looking for super class and well dressed Swedish men and women. There’s also the infamous Spy Bar which in honestly, is the crappiest and most expensive bar I ever visited to get the full Stureplan experience.
Ute Companiet & Svampen

Ryanair & Snow Adventures at Skavsta Airport

This week in Stockholm, traveling anywhere is a bad idea. The weather has been so bad that it’s better to stay at home than go to work, a so called, snödag. Schools were closed, and those who braved the weather took an adventure through the city to get home. Cuz of course SL, the local rail and bus transit system of Stockholm was broken most of the day.
stockholms city in the winter
I had a better adventure than trying to get to work on Monday. I was going to Skavsta airport on Sunday evening to travel to London. While Hairy Swede hates on Arlanda airport, I am going to hate on Skavsta, rather Ryan Air. Because Ryan Airline can not only be the silliest airline, it can have the stupidest bus service ever.

The flight was at 21hr (9pm) and I decided to take the Ryan Air bus at 17hr to get to the airport by 18.30. That would give me plenty of time to relax at the airport. Normally, I’m not the on time sort of person at the airports, but this time I felt it prudent to get there in a timely manner.

At 16.55, everyone has queued up at the bus area at Gate 15. At least this time, there was no City Terminalen chaos as the gate checkers were oblivious to bus passengers. At 17.05, a Ryan Air transfer bus passed came into the station, passed us, and went back out again. It never came back.

The Ryan Air bus in Stockholm’s station was empty. The ticket checker, of course sitting INSIDE the station said the bus was full. Because you know, being inside gives you better visibility to things outside than people standing outside.

She was pretty annoying and after 30min, we all got refunds and went to search for the next bus. Hell if I would trust the next Ryan Air bus at 18.15. It doesn’t beat the 0.00€ flights that Jason found, but a cash return is better than losing the bus ticket.

So I went downstairs to the lower gates to wait for Flygbussarna. At 17.30 people started boarding the bus for the departing 17.50. The bus filled. Another bus came to handle the overflow. That bus filled. So another came to take passengers, one of them being me. I got on the bus and it filled too. So guess what, Flygbussarna sent another bus to fill it in.

Finally at 19.30 I arrived to Skavsta. Checked in bag, had my passport checked. And the check-in counter man said, “You do know the flight is delayed, right?”

“Really?”

“Yea, it will leave at 23.25” … Boo … At Skavsta.

At 23.25 I boarded the plane, at a little past midnight we took off. We managed to get out of the airport and into the air, on the way to London. Better than the Skavsta airport chaos two weeks ago when Ryanair had the airport close. THAT was stupid. Who knew traveling from Sweden would be so difficult.

And at 04.00, I was sleeping in my bed. Finally. In London.